Injuries caused by slipping are common in a foodservice setting. Within the foodservice industry, slips and falls are the number one cause of injury, and 70% of these falls occur on a flat surface. Of these falls, around 85% are said to be caused by a slick material (i.e. water and oils) being left on the floors without proper signage or precautions. One place highly prone to wet floors is the dish washing area. With water spills being a common issue in this particular area, it is imperative that you take all the required steps to keep your staff safe. Here are five ways to help ensure the safety of your staff in the dish washing area.
1. Make Sure Your Mat is Cared for Properly
One easy way to combat wet floors is with a proper skid-resistant mat. Specifically designed, waterproof, anti-skid mats are a great way to protect your staff from slipping in wet areas. Be warned, however, sometimes mats can do more harm than good if not taken care of properly. First, if you opt for rubber mats with holes, simply moving the mat can move water underneath and greatly reduce traction. This can cause the mat to act more like a wakeboard than a solid, safe surface. To combat this, be sure to pay attention to spills. If the mat area is slick, train your employees to give others proper warning. This can be easily accomplished with a simple wet floor sign. Or, train employees to periodically dry mop the area. This is an easy way to ensure that the floors remain dry and safe.
2. Require Proper Footwear
Another way to better protect your employees is proper footwear. Having a shoe with a slip-resistant sole can be extremely helpful when moving around slick areas. This added grip makes them an essential tool in the warewashing area. This is an extremely important rule to enforce because according to the National Floor Safety Institute slips caused by improper footwear make up about 24% of falls. To start making this a part of your operations, try offering a free staff training on proper footwear. Free training will give your staff an in-depth look at the importance of this requirement, and give them full knowledge of what shoes are a good fit when working in these areas. Slip-resistant shoes may not be the most fashionable, but they are far better than suffering a fall.
3. Properly Maintain Drains
It is important to note that maintaining drainage solutions is a must. A clogged drain can make it difficult to keep the dish area dry, creating a major hazard that could potentially end in injury. To avoid this make sure drainage passages are clear of dirt and debris, and make sure to check them regularly. Another way to help improve safety in the event that you have a slow or clogged drain is having an easily accessible, dry surface to stand on in the area. OSHA recommends using a mat, false floor, or raised platform to achieve this added protection.
4. Use Proper Signage
Improving the safety of your washroom can be as simple as placing a sign. Having a wet floor sign on hand is an important step in providing a safer environment for your employees. In the event of a spill or overflow, the spill should be cleaned immediately and the wet floor sign should be placed in front of the affected area. This will signal to other employees to be cautious. Inefficient hazard identification makes up about 9% of fall cases in restaurants according to the NFSI. So, make sure you take action to alleviate this issue, and consider these factors when choosing your sign:
- OSHA Rule Section 29 requires wet surface signs to be yellow.
- 360° signs allow for easier visibility.
- Signs should be tall enough to catch people's attention.
5. Invest in Proper Drying Equipment
In addition to eliminating Wet Nesting, having a proper drying rack can be a great way to efficiently improve safety in your drying area. Look for a drying rack that has proper air flow; having a rack that properly dries dishes without dripping will help minimize the amount of water that ends up pooling on the floor. With less water on the floor, your staff is less likely to slip, greatly improving the overall safety of the dish washing area. Another thing to consider for added safety would be a water capture reservoir. By catching the water that escapes before it hits the floor you can rest easy knowing that your employees are moving around on a safe surface.